For several years we’ve been taking our Youth group to Soul Survivor. It’s a large Christian youth festival in the West of England and we spend five days living in tents. Most of the groups in attendance are fairly well equipped and quite proficient in setting up camp. There are always exceptions, some obviously have no experience of camping and for them it can come as a nasty shock. When the winds increase it can even be a case of beware of flying tents!
Someone pitches a tent in our reading today but it’s very different thing.
John began the chapter with three facts about the Word; his pre-existence, his distinctiveness and his deity. Now in verse fourteen we learn a new incredible fact; ‘The Word became flesh’. Notice in verse one the use of the word ‘was’, to give us those three facts; John is describing the Word’s eternal state. Now in verse fourteen, the Word became. There was a change when the Word became a human being ‘and made his dwelling among us’. All of the commentators (certainly all of the ones that I have read), pick up on the idea that; ‘made his dwelling among us’ means ‘he pitched his tent among us’ or ‘he tabernacled among us’. Just a couple of things;
- A tent is a temporary dwelling. The Word came and lived among us for a time but he has returned to the father.
- There is a picture here of the tabernacle in the Old Testament. God’s presence; his Shechinah glory, dwelt in the tabernacle which was a tent. Just as God was present in the camp of the Israelites in the tabernacle, so God was present with his people in the person of Jesus.
- The Tabernacle was the place where God said; ‘There I will meet you and speak to you’ (Exodus 29:42). It’s only through Christ that human beings can meet God.
As with yesterday’s reading we can barely scratch the surface of all of the material to be found here so perhaps we can highlight a few big themes;
- In the middle of all of these wonderful truths we have something that jars, most people rejected Christ (1:11). It had been prophesied (Isaiah 53:3) and it’s a response that we still see today.
- It’s hard to miss that the word ‘grace’ appears three times in the passage. We’ve seen in Genesis that grace isn’t an idea found only in the New Testament. We see it in the way God dealt with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and we’ve had a very good picture of grace in Joseph’s dealings with his brothers but it’s as if John is saying; ‘You think you know about grace? Wait until you see Jesus’.
- The passage also tells us that Jesus is full of truth (twice). Perhaps this is pointing to Christ’s sinless character. Most of us could not be described as being full of truth.
- God is revealed in Jesus.
- We have seen that most reject Christ but for those who receive him there are great blessings. To be born of God and to be called a child of God
The question that looms from all of this is; have you received Jesus Christ? It is the biggest question of all.
Meekness and majesty, manhood and Deity,
In perfect harmony, the Man who is God.
Lord of eternity, dwells in humanity,
Kneels in humility and washes our feet.
O what a mystery, meekness and majesty.
Bow down and worship for this is your God. (Graham Kendrick)